Lady Jabberwocky Prompt of the Week- Harold’s Unfortunate Mistake

Prompt of the Week: Scene of the Crime

Normally, police detectives didn’t get involved in “missing persons” cases without direct evidentiary reasons but the multiple calls from alarmed neighbors, who new Harold’s unflappable routine, made them take an interest. Two of the neighbors had thought they’d heard fireworks several nights before, but now, had decided they’d actually heard gunshots and all of them were extremely worried because they hadn’t seen the ‘dependable’ Harold for days!

Officers had not been able to solicit any answers to their knocks and the putrid odor emanating from the unkempt house offered an excellent probable cause to enter uninvited.
Their first perusal was a 360 degree examination of the outside. Every window was covered to the top with debris on the inside. And, yes, the odor was nauseating!
The first to enter, after breaking in the front door, were the beat officers who needed to secure the scene wearing Hazmat suits {complete with booties} to protect themselves from the rot, as much as, to preserve evidence.
What they found sent two of them running outside to vomit!
Harold, although beloved by his neighbors, was obviously a most severe hoarder.
Rotted food, animal feces, and garbage, covered every inch of every room and it was stacked to the ceiling. Three feral cats raced past the officers the moment the door had been breached. The origins of the stench had now been confirmed.

After an excruciating search, taken in shifts, Harold had not been found but four 9mm shell casings were in clear view when they had entered the back porch!
Now, it was the detectives’ turn and foul play was clearly suspected.
Looking for clues to Harold’s disappearance was going to be a nightmare!
Up to this point, no murder could be concluded but, since Harold had no known family and was 86 years old, locating him was ramped up to an APB.
Obviously, Harold’s friendly relationship with his neighbors had been made by ‘outdoor’ interactions. Over seven years, he had strolled the exact same route through the neighborhood everyday, rain or shine. He cheerfully engaged many of them sharing humorous stories and jokes. The man was a skillful comedian… and a real charmer.

As yellow crime scene tapes were tied, and the police presence increased, most of the worried neighbors started to gather along the street. Then the detectives made an unusual discovery under newspapers on the kitchen counter; A half-eaten fresh sandwich and a dated, three day old, envelope that had contained a plane ticket.
Why hadn’t those cats eaten the sandwich?
Who had been, or would want to be, inside this house casually eating in the last six hours?
What did the plane ticket mean?

A disturbance suddenly erupted at a garage across the street!
Those feral cats were yowling, screeching, and pacing, outside the door creating an hysterical display.
Inside, Harold was found with a duffle bag full of precious items pilfered from his distracted neighbors! They had left their homes unattended, and unlocked, to watch the police. It was a beautifully planned crime that clearly counted on the affection and trust he’d engendered.
He was apprehended and disarmed without incident and cuffed, then driven downtown. Harold was found to have many aliases and it was learned he had made his living conning people throughout his life.
The suspected crime scene had been the well planned diversion to a real crime and it had taken Harold’s mistake, of befriending cats in addition to people, to crack it.

Prompt of the Week: Scene of the Crime | Lady Jabberwocky

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #111~ A Passionate Undoing

The image above is from Celine Ylmz at Unsplash.

Peter couldn’t resist books, especially old books. Their musty aroma stirred comforting emotions and cherished memories of his father’s library where he spent most of his time as a homebound child labeled as ‘retarded’.
So, he wasn’t able to attend any traditional school, like his little sister did, because of what was actually an undiagnosed case of autism, but that didn’t stop him from exploring the world between the covers of books. Those were especially happy and secure years!
But, Peter’s adult life was not as glorious. Although he never left the security of that familiar environment, he hadn’t learned a thing about being social or dealing with a most hectic bustling world. He ended up only inheriting a house and a large collection of books. His grown-up passions encompassed solitude and yard sales. Those two things, and an insatiable quest for ever more books, were his eventual undoing.
Six years ago, his sister surprised him with a visit. She’d married and moved away after their parents passed. He hadn’t seen her in ten years!
She found him literally surrounded by stacks of books. There wasn’t one room or hallway where two people could walk side by side. An expert was called in and his home was declared too hazardous to live in. He was taken, against his will, to a special hospital and his property was disposed of. He was crushed!
But now, Peter has been determined ‘cured’ after those six institutional years and recently has found acceptance in a group home. It’s far better than that hospital and Peter has even forgiven his sister for what he once considered unforgiveable.
Although he is considered a recovering hoarder, Peter has found a way to still collect all the books he desires giving his new life a similar purpose as before. He browses antique bookstores every chance he gets. He enjoys that comforting aroma and delights in new titles. He just carries his phone along and takes photos of the ones he wishes to hang on to.

Fandango’s Flash Fiction Challenge #111 – This, That, and The Other (